FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from a jam-packed Wednesday of New England Patriots media availability ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game:
— With the Lamar Hunt Trophy on display, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, tight end Rob Gronkowski, safety Devin McCourty and special teams captain Matthew Slater all addressed reporters from the podium in the Gillette Stadium media room.
— Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday in a conference call that he believes Gillette is the toughest stadium in the NFL to play in, mostly because playing in Foxboro means you’re playing against the Patriots.
Asked about Marrone’s opinion, Gronkowski took the opportunity to give a very Gronk-esque description of the Patriots’ home crowd.
“Our fans are always coming out,” Gronkowski said. “I remember last year (in the playoffs) I was watching in the stands, and they were going bazooka. They were super loud, super proud. It doesn?t matter where you are, if you are playing home or you are playing away, it is the better team that comes out, it is the team that is more prepared and it is the team that plays harder on Sunday that is going to win the game.”
Ten bucks says #GoingBazooka will be trending if Gronkowski scores a touchdown Sunday.
— Slater sported a shirt during his news conference that Patriots fans are sure to appreciate.
“I was given this by our equipment staff on my way in here,” he said when asked about his attire. “I was told I needed to wear this to the fancy press conference today. I just follow orders. I?m a yes man.”
Hey, that’s just smart marketing.
— Slater, who on Monday had a great response to Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s Super Bowl guarantee, offered another notable quote when asked why the Patriots, unlike the Jags, never “go there” (i.e. talk trash about their opponents).
“I will answer that with a question,” Slater said. “Why do we need to go there?”
— The Patriots on Wednesday placed cornerback/special teams star Jonathan Jones on injured reserve after Jones suffered an undisclosed injury late in Saturday’s divisional-round playoff win over the Tennessee Titans.
Though he has not played much defensively in recent weeks, Jones is one of New England’s top gunners. Slater, who has been very complimentary of the speedy second-year pro this season, said it will take more than one player to fill his role in the kicking game.
“It?s not going to be one guy,” Slater said. “He does a lot of things for us and he does a lot of things well. And he?s done that since he?s gotten here — he?s been consistent. He?s improved day after day. It?s going to take a lot of guys stepping up, doing their job just a little bit better. A few guys in different roles. You don?t replace him with one guy.”